BELMOPAN, Cayo District, Thurs. Feb. 2, 2017 – To serve as an elected Cabinet minister with responsibility for one or more government ministries is a time-consuming task.
However, several ranking UDP Cabinet ministers took it upon themselves to deliver applications for immigration documents to the Immigration Department on behalf of their “constituents.”
In their testimonies to the Senate Select Committee, former Immigration Director, Ruth Meighan and her successor, Maria Marin, have both confirmed the frequent visits to the Immigration Department by government ministers, mayors and other high-ranking officials of the Dean Barrow administration.
At Wednesday’s Senate hearing, Immigration officer of twenty-seven years, Gordon Wade, would also confirm the same occurrence to the Senate Select Committee.
Here is the verbal exchange in which that was revealed:
Gordon Wade: “…It was usual for Ministers to come in and bring in application services at our Department for their constituents.”
Senator Elena Smith: “…So who are those Ministers?”
Wade: “Like I mentioned, there were several Ministers. There was the Minister from Belmopan – Minister [John] Saldivar, Minister [Erwin] Contreras, Minister [Pablo] Marin, Minister [Manuel] Heredia and Minister [Edmund] Castro.”
Senator Aldo Salazar: “When you say ‘usual practice,’ can you elaborate on that…”
Wade: “I think it’s the Senator that made the reference to what I said, that this was the usual practice for Ministers to bring in applications.”
Salazar: “I want you to elaborate on what practice you are referring to…”
Wade: “For them to bring in applications. They would be informed that you know what, this is what is missing, and they would always promise to bring the missing documents, which they did most of the time, so that’s what I referred to.”
These government ministers, among others named in the Auditor General’s special report, will all be required to appear in front of the Senate Select Committee for questioning. However, no date for those appearances has been set.